With the 2017 NFL Draft now concluded and the departing Stanford Cardinal football players headed to their NFL teams now is a great time to look ahead to the next 5 years of Stanford football. In short, the future of the program looks good and there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Here are five predictions for the next five years.
1. Stanford running backs will continue to dominate the conference:
Yes it is true that the once in a generation talent that is Christian McCaffrey is no longer on the Farm but it is not all doom and gloom as we have already seen guys like Bryce Love can be a feature back this team needs to win.
2. Stanford should consistently have some of the best if not underrated quarterbacks in the Pac-12
At quarterback this team has several good options both now and in the future. There is of course Keller Chryst, and Ryan Burns and behind them are elite prospects K.J. Costello and incoming freshman 5-star QB Davis Mills.
3. The Stanford offensive line will return to prominence
On the offensive line the team is still looking for the right combination of players but winning the line of scrimmage is where Stanford usually excels. With great players like David Bright, Casey Tucker, and Nate Herbig there are already some great pieces in the unit. Of course Stanford also did just sign two of the three best tackles in the country on National Signing Day so adding 5-star tackles Foster Sarrell and Walker Little will be great for Stanford’s continued offensive success.
4. The defensive secondary will continue to have plenty of depth.
On defense expect to see continued dominance in the secondary thanks in large part to guys like Quenton Meeks, Alijah Holder, Frank Buncom and more. Adding in 4-star CB Paulson Adebo into the mix will only help the long term success of the secondary.
5. The defensive front may struggle initially to replace Solomon Thomas
On the defensive front you should expect to see continued growth and more production from the linebackers who were relatively quite last season for Stanford. The defensive line has the unenviable task of trying to replace defensive stud Solomon Thomas. Look for defensive Tackle Harrison Phillips to lead the way with plenty of great young talent like 4-star sophomore DT Michael Williams following. On NSD 2017 the Cardinal also brought in 4-star defensive end Ryan Johnson. Stanford is a team that wins the line of scrimmage and it is reasonable to expect that trend to continue for the foreseeable future.
Expectations are certainly high for the Cardinal as their new floor in the David Shaw era seems to be about 8 wins and their ceiling the Rose Bowl but this team has the talent and the coaching staff in place to, at a minimum, continue to be an annual competitor for the Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Whether or not Stanford can advance beyond that will certainly depend on a bit of luck and approval of the College Football Playoff committee.